Pilates vs. Yoga

In pop-culture life, there seem to be some polarizing areas of opinion. I’m talking about areas that most people seem to fall into either one camp or another, but rarely both. Big questions like: Beatles vs. Stones? Star Wars vs. Star Trek? Britney vs. Christina? (For the record, I’m Beatles, Star Trek and Britney — all the way, baby.)

In the fitness world there are lots of little niches and areas to really get into, but when it comes to an either-or camp, I’ve found that no two workouts seem to be more polarizing than Pilates vs. yoga.


At first, I thought it was just me. For years, I’ve understood how great of a workout Pilates is. I’ve been to classes with some amazing instructors, learned great things about proper alignment and true core strength, and gotten some really fantastic Pilates workouts. Yet, despite what class I tried or workout DVD I did, I just never really enjoyed Pilates. I knew that it should be the kind of thing I dig and that it was beneficial, but, man I just have never been able to get into it.

Yoga though? Oh, yoga. I heart thee. Let me count the ways. I look forward to a good yoga workout — crave it even. I feel fantastic and connected and alive in yoga, and even just 20 minutes of yoga seems to reset both my body and mind. Doesn’t even matter the style of yoga. I love it all.

A couple of years ago, I started to notice a trend when talking to people about their favorite workouts. A lot of people liked running or walking or lifting weights and all that, but generally when it came to Pilates and yoga (which often seem to be lumped together as “mind/body”), they either loved one or the other — but not both. I have one friend who adores Pilates — so much so that she bought a reformer for her home. I have another who only does yoga and nothing more. Then, there’s FBG Tish, who is a self-proclaimed yoga hater.

Like me, it’s not that these gals haven’t given Pilates or yoga a shot; they have! It’s just not something they can dig and get into. And you know what, that’s totally okay!

I think sometimes we beat ourselves up for not liking the cool new workout trend or totally dreading the one workout our best friend loves. And while I do think it’s important to try new things and give them a fair shot, if you try something a few of times and you really don’t like it? Well, for the love of all things Fit Bottomed, find something you like!

You know how fitness doesn’t have to “look” one way? Well, it’s the same with workouts likes and dislikes. We’re all different people and life is too darn short to do workouts you don’t like, especially when there are so many options out there. So if you’re forcing yourself to like a workout and just can’t dig it, consider this your permission to break up with it. Find something you love and do that instead!

And, then tell me — because I’m dying to know — what Pilates vs. yoga camp do you fall in? Or am I totally wrong and you love both?! —Jenn

Categories: From Jenn, Motivation, Pilates, YogaTags: , , ,

This article was originally published on fitbottomedgirls.com.

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  1. What a good topic to write about…it is like you were reading my mind! I need to do more of both! My core strength leaves a bit to be desired:/ (probably why I tend to have back problems!) But, the problem I have with these is that when I am working out, I like to sweat like a crazy lady. So, I really like hot yoga, because obviously, you get really sweaty. However, that is what turns me off of pilates. I love that I am so sore the next day, BUT I never feel that great during/right after the work out because I’m not really sweating…unless I am doing the wrong kind of pilates! I don’t know if any of that makes sense haha, but I would have to say right now I feel the same about both of them!:)

  2. SO important to find an exercise you love!

    I used to enjoy Pilates WAY more than yoga. Then it shifted and I was much more of a yoga person than a Pilates person. These days I do both yoga and Pilates every week and I like them pretty much equally, I think. Might be in the minority there though 😉

  3. For most of us, a very good answer to the exercise conundrum is to do a variety of activities on a weekly basis. We know this intuitively. Concentrating on one type of exercise will usually lead to the loss of other important benefits. Again for most of us, across-the-board benefits are required. We need to maintain or increase a healthful amount of lean muscle mass. We gain this benefit from strength training. We need to maintain or improve cardiovascular strength and health. These are obtained from aerobic-type exercise such as brisk walking, running, swimming, or bicycling. We need to maintain or improve flexibility and stretchability. These benefits are gained from yoga. Each category of physical fitness is necessary for ongoing health and well-being. Thus, each of the three main categories of exercise is needed to ensure we obtain the full range of benefits.

    It’s important to be aware that each exercise category provides a distinct benefit, and as such no individual category is a “better” than the others. Doing exercise consistently is what counts. Going further, consistently doing a range of types of exercise provides lasting health benefits. There might be times when a person chooses to focus on one specific category. That’s fine, provided that the other two categories continue to be incorporated on a temporarily reduced basis. After a while, the person will usually choose to return to a broader approach.

    Finally, most people are familiar with strength training and the various types of cardiovascular exercise. Not everyone is familiar with yoga. There are numerous other activities that promote flexibility and stretchability, and yoga is not the only means of obtaining these benefits. But many people have discovered that yoga in itself is complete exercise. Regular yoga practice provides strength training, cardiovascular training, and deep training of the proprioceptive system (the body’s awareness of position in 3-dimensional space) which leads to improved agility and balance. Regular yoga practice adds lean muscle mass and lowers the heart rate (as a result of improved cardiovascular capacity). Those who do yoga are “light on their feet”. Yoga is a remarkable exercise system and could be sufficient in itself for long-lasting health and wellness. But when a person adds a weight lifting program and specific cardiovascular training, the remarkable benefits of cross-training kick in. The overall gains achieved are noticeably enhanced. Thus, a broad program of strength training, cardiovascular training, and yoga can lead to the best results.

  4. For me yoga is the clear winner, never really enjoyed pilates classes i attended. Thanks for the article and thanks for the comment, Paul .

  5. I agree, yoga wins over Pilates. I find yoga to be more whole body, complete, functional, and overall inspiring. I love the physical side of yoga – alignment principles that transfer seamlessly to every other exercise modality. And I love the deep-rooted philosophical side of yoga as well, since we are much more than just physical beings. I do enjoy the core-focus that Pilates offers, but I think that everything I enjoy about Pilates has actually been borrowed from yoga. 🙂 No offence to anyone, because that’s the beauty of our diverse fitness industry – there is something for everyone.

  6. I like my yoga to restore me, relax me. I like the strength training aspect of pilates (I lifted heavy weights for years). There are other things that are appealing about each. I’m just a happier lady with both in my life!